7 Swimming Safety Tips To Follow While Visiting Lake Michigan Beaches
The Michigan coastline along the east side of Lake Michigan has been ranked the deadliest for water-related incidents, according to 15 years of data from the National Weather Service. A current rescue project led by the State of Michigan, reports that last year’s drowning numbers nearly doubled those of 2015 (46 in 2016, 25 in 2015). Rip currents, which may not reach the size of those in the ocean, but tend to break twice as quickly, are popular for all of the Great Lakes but especially Lake Michigan. Rip currents are also frequently at the root of most drowning blame. Pair dangerous water risks with the less staffed beaches with lifeguards, it is becoming more important than ever for swimmers, boaters, and beach goers to be practicing safe swimming and water activities this summer. Other factors related to swimming injuries, including drowning, include lack of life-jacket use, cuts and lacerations, swimming in unsafe weather conditions, not being aware of surroundings or boats, or swimming alone.
The More You Know, The Safer You Will Be
If you and your family area planning a trip to Lake Michigan this summer The Lee Steinberg Law Firm would like to help make sure you all enjoy your time in a safe way. Our team, in partnership with the American Red Cross, hope you keep these tips close to you when you’re around the lake this season.
1) Rip Currents: Swimming in Lakes is Different Than Swimming in Pools
Swimming Lake Michigan is different from swimming in a pool. More skills and energy are required for the natural water environment because of cold water and air temperatures that create strong rip currents, unexpected waves and conditions that don’t allow a swimmer to see the bottom as clear as they would a pool. Water levels and flows can shift rapidly without warning. Likewise, calm and shallow waters can suddenly move fast and become quickly dangerous.
If you find yourself in a Lake Michigan rip current, remain calm and try to call for help if you are a poor swimmer. If you feel confident you can get away from it, swim parallel to shore to escape the current. But conserve energy when necessary. Swim diagonally toward the shore even if that means you are moving away from the area you entered the lake from.
2) Life Jackets Are Called Life Jackets For A Reason
Life jackets are not just for boaters. Many people involved in Lake Michigan (or other water) emergencies never intended to swim in the first place. Whenever you are around water, take steps to prepare for the unexpected, such as wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, also known as a personal flotation device (PFD). If a child is not a strong swimmer and still working on water safety skills, they need to be provided a life jacket that fits properly.
3) Listen and Watch For Boats, Jet Skis, and Water Flotation Devices
The good thing is that the majority of Lake Michigan boat drivers know what they’re doing but it’s still important to remember how small you may look in the distance as a swimmer because there are still instances where drivers are negligent and accidents with swimmers occur. A boat driver may think all is clear until it’s too late. Make sure everyone is on the lookout for boats, and communicate with one another if one begins to approach. Boat operators should also stay alert and not be distracted.
4) Cuts, Lacerations, and Serious Injuries
Broken glass, rocks, sharp metal or harmful trash, shells, fishing hooks, sticks, and other sharp objects are easily hidden beneath the sand and water of a lake.
You will need to seek medical attention if:
- Your wound is open and keeps bleeding or the pain gets worse.
- You have a high temperature or signs of infection (pus, redness, or red streaks leading from the wound).
- You have numbness or swelling below the wound, or you cannot move the joint below the wound.
5) Never Swim Alone, Be Seen
Buddy system swimming isn’t just for toddlers or young kids. If you do enter the lake alone, at least have someone remain on land and stay within sight of your family or beach party.
A person can blend in with the water easily. Swimmers should wear bright colors so others can notice them. If you are in an area of the lake with a lot of other swimmers or one with a lot of boats, you may also want to consider wearing a bright cap and colorful life jackets to ensure you can be easily kept track of.
6) Be Wary Of Bad Weather
If you’re planning to swim a little farther away from shore, make sure you check the forecast before you do. Swimming too far out when a storm is brewing is exceptionally dangerous, so know what’s in store for you before heading out.
7) Find the Beach Rules, Know Your Resources
If you are swimming at a public beach, it’s a good idea to see if there is a lifeguard station or rest area that has the rules of the lake or water conditions listed. Most Lake Michigan beaches, however, do not have a lifeguard on duty. If the beach is unsupervised, there will often be flags, signs or buoys to indicate where swimming is safest. Know how to dial 911 and where your phone has service. It is also a good idea to find out where you can find a first aid kit or reach any life-saving equipment.
Stay Safe, Enjoy Your Summer at The Beach
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm are Michigan’s swimming accident and water injury law experts. We have represented swimmers injured due to boating negligence and also helped families who have lost someone due to someone else’s water recklessness for over 40 years. Let our Michigan water accident lawyers help you.
Please call 1-800-LEE-FREE or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form so we can answer any questions you may have. You pay nothing until our Michigan water accident attorneys settle your case. Let us help you today.